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Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World First Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1591027218
ISBN-10: 1591027217
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What was good enough 200,000 years ago no longer works very well. Davis makes his case with illuminating examples from everyday life. Caveman Logic is written with wit, humor and compassion. A must-read for those searching beyond superstition and fear to understand our place in the universe." --Prof. Harry M.B. Hurwitz, Director, The Lessing Institute

"Hank Davis does a terrific job in helping readers understand how ways of thinking that were both reasonable and advantageous in caveman days become illogical - and potentially destructive - when they are overextended to modern times. A stimulating, thought-provoking book!" --Madeleine Van Hecke, author of Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things

"Why do we humans suffer from delusions such as those of religion? Davis gives the best explanation yet. Our brains are still the same as our Pleistocene ancestors whose survival was enhanced by seeing dangers even when they were none there. By critical thinking we can rid ourselves of these no longer needed survival tools." --Victor J. Stenger, author of the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis.

About the Author

Hank Davis (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) is an award-winning professor of psychology who teaches at the University of Guelph. He is the author of several books on behavioral science and popular culture and more than one hundred scientific papers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 298 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; First edition (June 23, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027218
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,158,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ladd Wheeler on August 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
The human mind evolved into its present form when we lived in small groups and were mostly trying to avoid sudden death, obtain food and shelter, and reproduce. The mind evolved to handle these tasks efficiently, and humans thrived. Now, however, the "caveman logic" of our early ancestors leads us to believe many things that simply aren't true. We find patterns where none exists. We perceive causation when none exists. We invent the rain god to control what we cannot control. We fear death and so invent séances and ghosts. We fear intruders into our small group and so war against those who are different.
In this very readable book, Hank Davis discusses the mistakes of "caveman logic" and what we can do to avoid them. He includes up-to-date scientific research and examples from the real world. The writing is graceful and non-academic. I'd say that the book is really about how to think clearly about day-to-day events in our lives. It is easily the best book I've seen on this topic and will not disappoint anyone who wants to understand superstitions and other false beliefs.
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Hank Davis, in this overview of all the foibles, fallacies, and biases that infect the reasoning abilities of our species, lays out a strong argument that although we have imperfect cognitive equipment given to us by evolution, we can overcome the pitfalls with judicious use of critical thinking, science, and intellectual honesty. While Davis specifically dwells on the supernatural phantoms that people accept as part of their lives from ghosts and spirits to deities and angels, he also delves into the purely secular arenas of fallacious thinking from gambling to the incomplete way we often evaluate data in everyday situations. Several books on this topic have been written of late such as Bruce Hood's excellent SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable, but Davis's seems to have an endearing clarity and unique perspective.

The primary thesis of Caveman Logic comes back to the fact that for all of the pre-disposed ways of human thought that work well, the areas in which we are particularly bad at stem from the misapplication of the strengths. One of the ways that this occurs is through the over-extension of one way of thinking into another domain that it was not designed by natural selection for, and more importantly, is demonstrably bad at.

This comes to bear in Davis's critique of supernatural beliefs where such mental tools as agent detection (which is a very good skill to have) is applied to reasoning about natural occurrences. We see this happen all the time when our low-brow religious mouthpieces such as Pat Robertson blame natural disasters on the agency of God (as with hurricane Katrina).
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Format: Paperback
Even with all the technology and scientific advancement we have, we're still nothing more than hairless apes. "Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World" is a discussion of this irrationality that seems to affect all of mankind. Written in a light hearted manner, the issue is not one necessarily one to be laughed at, being the root of many problems America and its neighbors still face. A delve into the psychology of modern man and how the vestigial instincts still drive us, "Caveman Logic" is an utterly fascinating read that will shed light on modern reason.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I put five stars to "The Caveman Logic" because there wasn't more. This is a book about something that everybody knows but which is hard to say in a few pages (298 in the paperback edition). To say something important about whatever in a few pages you need to know a lot about that and also you need to have some art to write it down. If not, the upshot is an amalgam of opinions and smart sentences meaning nothing. Bookstores are full of books with that kind of works and that's why Hank Davis' work is an exception to me.

"Caveman Logic" is exactly about that: a way of thinking and acting that after millennia follows with us. This is easier to say than to base or to prove it with data, analysis and discussion. In order to do this, the book has been organized in seven chapters, being the latest of them "Can it be fixed?" which tells almost everything about the book just before reading it although the issue is established at the very beginning: "Our bodies seem to be standing up rather well; it's our minds that are slipping into obsolescence." And also "Biology is not destiny."

Can we change our minds to live in accordance with the complexities of a world outside the cavern? Should we? Do we must change? Why? Why to change if everything is right?

This book doesn't make a problem where there is none. Bad books do that. This book notes, based on observations and experiments, what the majority of us don't see. We were prepared to solve issues that are out of date (running to hunt, running to not being hunted), those that were good for living in the jungle. Now we live in cities facing different problems and solving them but --this is the interesting part-- using the same savanna tools.
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